NASCAR: No evidence on Paul Menard

Updated: September 17, 2011, 3:23 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

JOLIETT, Ill. -- NASCAR officials said on Saturday there is no evidence to support allegations that Paul Menard spun out intentionally to bring out a caution and affect the finish of last weekend's Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway.

Spokesman Kerry Tharp said officials listened to audio of Menard's radio transmission before he spun out with 16 laps remaining and found nothing to indicate he did anything deliberately.

"Yeah, it's behind me,'' Menard said after qualifying second for Sunday's race. "If they had something I'd love to see it. I'm glad they said that (it was over) and we're moving forward.''

NASCAR looked at the incident in response to four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon saying there was something "fishy'' about the spinout that opened the door for Menard's teammate, Kevin Harvick, to win.

Gordon led before the final caution, but Harvick beat him off pit road to lead when the race restarted with 12 laps to go.

Menard and Richard Childress Racing denied any wrongdoing, saying Menard's tire went down, causing the spinout.

"In light of the suspicions, we're going to look into it and see if there is anything,'' NASCAR president Mike Helton said Friday at Chicagoland Speedway. "And a lot of it is going to be interpretation. Certainly, it is on us to understand exactly what all we can find as far as facts are concerned.''

Helton said there was nothing during the officiating of the race that raised suspicion. He added that such a matter is considered a race procedure and indicated it is unlikely punishment would be forthcoming even if evidence was found of wrongdoing.

Helton noted race procedures are "unappealable and unchangeable.''

"The biggest thing is to make sure we get the facts right and police the environment moving forward.'' Helton said. "We joke about there not being gentlemen's agreements anymore in our sport. But I do feel there is a code of ethics among drivers that is alive and well.''

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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